Definition of Heat Exhaustion in English

According to abbreviationfinder, heat exhaustion is a physical state of exhaustion that can be prevented by various measures. Observing appropriate measures is particularly important for risk groups.

What is heat exhaustion?

Heat Exhaustion is a form of Heat Damage. The object of heat exhaustion is that the body is deprived of the fluid and electrolytes it needs to function. The symptoms of heat exhaustion closely resemble the symptoms of shock.

Corresponding symptoms are, for example, nausea, dizziness, headaches or even an onset of unconsciousness. For example, people who are ill, infants or people older than 65 years are particularly at risk of suffering from heat exhaustion. The background to the increased risk of heat exhaustion in infants is that their skin surface is still very small, so sweating is not sufficient to regulate body temperature.

Elderly people are at increased risk of heat exhaustion because their thermoregulation is often impaired. The fact that there is often an acute weakness of the cardiovascular system contributes to the increased risk of sick people suffering from heat exhaustion.


Heat exhaustion is mostly caused by a lack of fluids and a lack of electrolytes. Long stays in very hot areas or rooms are usually responsible for this. In this case, the body is not sufficiently supplied with liquid.

Heat exhaustion may be accelerated by prolonged physical exertion (such as endurance sports or physical labor) while in hot weather. The biological background to heat exhaustion is that the body reacts to great heat by sweating in order to release body heat to the environment.

Sweating causes a loss of fluids and electrolytes (a form of minerals ). As a result, among other things, the blood thickens, which leads to a lack of blood in the internal organs. Heat exhaustion follows in the form of specified symptoms.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Heat exhaustion is relatively easy to prevent in most cases. However, the symptoms of this disease also depend heavily on the exact severity of the heat exhaustion, so that a general prediction is not possible in this case. Those affected primarily suffer from severe thirst.

Even with frequent drinking, the thirst is usually not quenched and is still there. There is dizziness and often vomiting. Those affected may also lose consciousness. Shortness of breath can still occur. The patients appear pale and exhausted and therefore also suffer from a significantly reduced resilience.

In addition, severe headaches occur with heat exhaustion. If an acute heat stroke occurs, this pain is accompanied by a migraine and severely restricts the patient’s everyday life. In severe cases, it can also lead to a comatose state. Fatalities usually do not occur. In most cases, the person affected can recover relatively well after heat exhaustion, so that there are no complications and no permanent damage. Life expectancy is usually not negatively affected.

Diagnosis & History

The diagnosis of heat exhaustion is already obvious when a person affected shows typical symptoms such as dizziness or nausea, is in hot temperatures and states that they have consumed little liquid.

If there is uncertainty as to whether heat exhaustion or, for example, heat stroke (another form of heat injury) is present, the skin of an affected person can provide information: Heat exhausted people’s skin is usually pale, cool and moist, while heat exhausted it is more red and is hot.

Heat exhaustion symptoms usually subside when a sufferer seeks out cooler temperatures and drinks enough fluids. If the symptoms of heat exhaustion are ignored, there is a risk of resulting heat stroke, which in some cases can lead to coma.


In the worst case, heat exhaustion can be fatal for the patient. However, it is very easy to prevent and avoid. The primary cause of heat exhaustion is increased thirst. The body has to compensate for the loss of fluid that occurs through heavy sweating. Headaches and dizziness also occur.

In the worst case, the patient suffers a loss of consciousness, which can lead to injuries from a fall. There is a general feeling of illness and severe pallor and nausea. The patient’s resilience drops extremely and normal activities can no longer be carried out. Treating heat exhaustion is relatively easy and quick.

Consequential damage or a loss of consciousness can thus be completely avoided. The affected person needs plenty of fluids and a stable position to rest. In severe cases, treatment by a doctor is necessary. Usually, however, the symptoms disappear after just a few hours after the heat exhaustion has set in. There are no further complications. Life expectancy is also unaffected by heat exhaustion.

When should you go to the doctor?

Heat exhaustion does not necessarily require a doctor’s visit. It is sufficient if the person concerned goes to a place where he is protected from the sun’s rays. A spot in the shade or staying in an air-conditioned building is helpful. In addition, the person concerned should rest and take it easy. Physical activity should be stopped or reduced to a minimum. In addition, liquids should be consumed to a greater extent and cold compresses help to cool down.

If further stressors are avoided, a significant improvement in well-being occurs in most people within a few minutes or hours. If there is an opportunity for a nap, this is also conducive to recovery. A restful night’s sleep under optimal conditions is recommended. There should be enough oxygen and the ambient temperatures should not be too warm. A doctor is needed when there is a circulatory collapse from heat exhaustion.

Circulatory disorders, persistent dizziness, nausea, and vomiting should be checked if they persist for several days. If the person affected appears dazed, has a headache or develops coordination disorders, it is advisable to see a doctor. Dehydration is an emergency. To ensure the survival of those affected, an ambulance must be called immediately in particularly serious cases.

Treatment & Therapy

Various immediate measures are important in the treatment of heat exhaustion. These include, for example, loosening the victim’s tight clothing and transporting him to a shady place where he can lie flat (legs should be positioned slightly elevated).

Another component of immediate measures ( first aid ) in the event of heat exhaustion is to provide the affected person with sips of liquid containing minerals; Juice spritzers, broths, mineral water or herbal teas are suitable for this.

In the case of heat exhaustion, it can also be important to check the affected person’s pulse and breathing at regular intervals. If a person loses consciousness as a result of heat exhaustion, it is advisable to contact an ambulance.

Outlook & Forecast

Heat exhaustion is a serious symptom that requires immediate attention. The prognosis dramatically worsens if the first symptoms of overheating of the body are misinterpreted or ignored.

Athletes who do sports in high heat and drink too little are often affected by heat exhaustion. Even ignoring the first symptoms can result in a heat collapse with a brief period of unconsciousness. If overheating-related symptoms such as headaches, weakness, dizziness, cramps or nausea are ignored, there is a risk of heat stroke. Sunstroke is also a possible further development.

At some point, the organism no longer has any means against the overheating that has occurred. The resulting dehydration can lead to hallucinations and shock. This worsens the prognosis for those affected. His breathing becomes shallow. The affected person looks strikingly pale after his skin initially appeared red. If the affected person is not immediately cooled and supplied with liquid, there is a risk of death.

An ambulance must be called immediately if the patient becomes unconscious. A deterioration in his condition is also a reason to call the emergency doctor. Heat exhaustion is often underestimated. It is often attributed to the wrong causes by those affected or those present. Therefore, the chances of a quick recovery are only good if the right action is taken immediately. However, prevention would have been wiser.


In order to prevent heat exhaustion, it is initially advisable to avoid heavy physical work in hot temperatures if possible. Limiting exercise when it’s hot can also help prevent heat exhaustion – this applies to both outdoor sports and sports played in potentially overheated gymnasiums.

Wearing loose or air-permeable clothing, which allows the body to regulate the body temperature, also has a preventive effect against heat exhaustion. In order to prevent heat exhaustion even with a lot of physical work in a hot environment, it is important to drink enough and plenty of minerals (e.g. mineral water). Alcohol and very sweet, sugary drinks should be avoided.


After the body has been exposed to high temperatures, attention should be paid to increased fluid and electrolyte intake. Otherwise there is a risk of fever, cramps or even a circulatory collapse. Special electrolyte drinks, juice spritzers, mineral water, lightly salted water, non-alcoholic beer and vegetable broth are recommended. Two to four glasses of a cool (not cold) drink per hour is a guideline.

If you are taking medication for dehydration, you should drink more. It is also important to stay in a cool place. If possible, the head should be held under cold running water. The forearms, neck and feet should also be cooled. Until symptoms disappear, patients should lie flat and slightly elevate their legs. After the heat exhaustion, those affected should take it easy.

The body needs time to recover. Doctors recommend a heat break of up to three days. Diet also plays an important role in aftercare. Care should be taken to ensure that the diet is easy to digest and low in fat. Fruit, vegetables and salads are ideal. Several small portions throughout the day help digestion. Headgear should be considered in the future. You should also avoid extensive sunbathing when the temperature is too high.

You can do that yourself

Rest, sleep, and drinking enough fluids help with heat exhaustion . The latter can be consumed through drinks or foods with a high water content. Watermelons, oranges, cucumbers or tomatoes are particularly recommended. In addition, these foods are rich in vitamins and thus support the immune system.

As soon as the first signs of exhaustion appear, a resting position should be assumed. Familiar work or physical exertion should be restricted and reduced to what is absolutely necessary. The necessary activities must be carried out with sufficient breaks. The sufferer should make sure they are not alone and seek helphas to the side. In the event of unsteady gait or dizziness, extreme caution and a slow approach are required. If the support of other people cannot be adequately guaranteed, the person concerned must ensure that he/she protects himself/herself when moving. This can be done with assistants or by holding on to objects and walls. These measures reduce the risk of accidents and falls when there is a risk of fainting.

Traveling by public transport is prohibited. Staying in direct sunlight should also be avoided. If possible, take a cold bath or shower. Air-conditioned rooms or fans are helpful to reduce outside temperatures or create wind movement.

Heat Exhaustion